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Once again, Presidents’ Day Weekend has come and gone- and with it another 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. This year’s event was the biggest yet, with entry capped at 1,850 racers, to say nothing of the hundreds of friends, family, volunteers, and spectators who briefly made up the population of 24 Hour Town, 45 minutes North of Tucson, AZ.
As hoped, the event (and pressure to live up to the potential of our Project 24 race bike) kept me training right up until January’s nasty cold snap. As promised by several of our Duelling Forecasts, race weekend saw reasonable temperatures turn cooler, accompanied by 40mph winds and periods of rain. As always, a mellow, friendly vibe dominated and most folks were happy to even be riding during what always seems like the coldest month. The Epic Rides folks put on a great show, with plenty of cozy camping, friendly on-course volunteers, a great course, and reasonable prices. Hit the jump to find out how things went on our end!
My race partner (in his 24-hour race debut) Alex and our top-notch crew Sandy kept things together. Food, as always, was a challenge and everyone in our little camp suffered a fair amount of nausea. Caffeinated Clif Shots, plenty of PowerBar IronMan juice, instant oatmeal and bagels saw us through and nobody stayed in their dark place for too long.
And the bike? The Project 24 Truth just plain worked. The Magura and Ellsworth suspension were extremely capable and confident and, along with a Fi’zi:k Aliante Gamma saddle, kept my nether regions much happier than I could have hoped. The Formula R1s suffered from a bit of rubbing early on, but a touch of grit actually helped and the brakes were great from that point on. Similarly, the 2011 XTR group finally seemed to break in after the rain, finally starting to feel as smooth as we’ve come to expect from Shimano. The Schwalbe Racing Ralphs struggled a bit with some of the loose-over-hard corners at the start of the race- but everyone was having trouble cornering reliably on kitty litter while fighting 40mph winds. The consensus was that conditions only improved as the night went on. Once the loose stuff was swept aside and the trail a bit tackier, the Ralphs could be pushed very hard into corners and held speed extremely well. American Classic’s, Exposure’s, and Crank Brothers’ contributions did exactly what I wanted- they didn’t require any attention whatsoever on my part.
SO, we’ll have part-by-part reviews over the next several weeks. Seeing as it was a race, how’d we do? Though we got off to a slow start and despite a couple of botched transitions, we kept it consistent enough to march up the standings to turn in 18 16.3mi laps and finish in 3rd place out of 80 or so Duo Male teams. Not too shabby, and better than a number of teams who were taking things far more seriously than we were. Our apologies to the Boulder Trek Bicycle Store team, who Alex inadvertently chased back out on to the course for a 20th lap with under 5 minutes left on the clock.